The Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris

The Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame is located on the eastern side of the Île de la Cité, an island on the River Seine in the middle of Paris.

The cathedral was built on the site of an ancient Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter that was replaced in 528 by a Christian church. Inspired by the magnificence of the recently restored Abbey Church of Saint Denis, Bishop Maurice de Sully decided to tear down the old Parisian church and build a grander one. Construction on the new cathedral began in 1163 and continued until the beginning of the fourteenth century.

As in most Gothic cathedrals, the facade of Notre Dame has three levels. Above these rise two towers, connected by the gallery of gargoyles— sculptures of hideous beasts that were believed to keep evil spirits away from the church. Below the gallery is the rose window, which is pieced together from hundreds of stained glass panes and measures over thirty feet in diameter.

Lower down is the Kings’ Gallery, which originally contained statues of the twenty-eight kings of Judah and Israel. During the French Revolution, the figures were decapitated by angry mobs that thought they were portraits of French kings. The sculptures were replaced in 1845 by the notable French architect, Viollet-le-Duc.

On the facade are three entrances to the church. The central and largest portal is dedicated to Christ in Judgment. To its left stands the portal of the Virgin and to its right the portal of Saint Anne, the Virgin’s mother.The cathedral has a rich history. In 1185 it was the site from which Heraclius of Caesarea announced the Third Crusade. In 1431 it staged the coronation of Henry VI and in 1804, that of Napoleon Bonaparte. During the French Revolution, the church was initially renamed the Temple of Reason, then the Temple of the Supreme Being. In 1970, it was used for Charles de Gaulle’s funeral.

ADDITIONAL FACTS

  1. Victor Hugo wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) in order to raise public awareness of Notre Dame’s history at a time when the building was in danger of being razed.
  2. Kilomètre zéro, which marks the starting point for all distances measured on French highways, is located on the square in front of the cathedral.
(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
 
 
 

Share this Post